A while back I wrote a post on my garden. My outer and my inner one. It had taken me years, decades actually, to realize that the state of my plants reflected my own emotional state. If my plants were in good shape, so was I. If they were miserable, so was I. It all came down to taking care of them and of myself. And I usually did both or neither. So I started using my outer garden as my personal alarm unit for my inner garden – and recently checked on it.
It turns out my outer garden is once more a perfect reflection of my inner one. Brief roundup: last year I managed to have most of my plants survive a harsh northern European winter. And those that did not I replaced. So last autumn I put my bamboo, my pampas grass, my rosemary, my lavender, my mint and my basil to their winter rest. And lo and behold, except for my basil, all of them survived.
Surviving isn’t quite the same as living, though, as I have recently come to discover. And obviously I want for my plants to live and thrive, not just survive. Which is particularly tricky for my bamboo. It had attracted a plant pest last summer. Some really nasty insects were nesting right where the young, tender leaves stick their little heads out when they first decide to grow out of a larger stem. But instead of growing into beautiful, strong leaves they would suddenly go all limp and yellow and rot.
I had tried all sorts of stuff to make those little critters go away, starting with different natural remedies and, when those didn’t work, even dropping a chemical bomb as last resort. In the end I had to admit that my bamboo probably wouldn’t recover. So I wrapped it up for winter and put my last hope into the icy temperatures that I thought might be able to do what I hadn’t been able to: finish off those intruders.
Turns out last winter didn’t get as icy as the previous one. When I uncovered the bamboo this spring it looked just as miserable as when I had wrapped it up, if not worse. So I did something that would probably make every bamboo expert’s stomach churn: I rid my bamboo of every single leaf it had, leaving just the plain stems. By taking away all the leaves, and with them all sticky remnants of the pest, at least I gave my bamboo the chance for a fresh start, as it had literally nothing more to lose. It would either make it, or not.
It turns out, even in this we were going along as a pair, my bamboo and I.
I recently had to pull a similar emergency break in my own life, too, stripping away all that didn’t do me any good. There was a lot of fear involved, and insecurity about what was to come out of it. But just as my bamboo I had nothing more to loose, except for the chance to rebuild myself from the ground up and regain my health. Which is better than just standing by, watching myself wither away without doing anything about it.
So I went on a radical cure, too, trimming down my activities to the bare essentials. I have also taken lots of measures of self-care since: plenty of sleep, lots of healthy foods, and lots of supplements to help my recovery. Actually, I probably overdid it a bit with the latter. At some point I was taking three different supplements (I usually don’t take any) and I’m not sure my body was actually able to absorb it all. Too much, too fast.
Ironically enough I had also over-fertilized my bamboo at the same time. Instead of recovering, the few tiny leaves that did show up grew about one inch before deciding that they didn’t want to go any further after all and withered away. Too much, too fast.
So I did the only thing I could: I waited for the substances to be washed out of the soil and out of my body and let my bamboo and my body recover at their own speed. Way slower than I would like, that is. But as my coach rightfully uses to remind me: “Grass doesn’t grow faster when you pull on it”. Or when you over-fertilize it, I shall add. I now always quietly chuckle when I think of it.
And my bamboo?
I did discover a few new, healthy leaves this morning. And for a change they seem intent on continuing to grow. My heart took a little leap of joy when I saw it!
I brewed myself a nice fresh cup of coffee, sat down next to my bamboo for a very long time, soaking up the wonderful spring sun, admiring the array of tiny new leaves and contemplating both of our prospects. And suddenly I knew:
My bamboo is going to make it.
And so am I.
PS: For those of you who are wondering about how I’m doing regarding my no regret bucket list: I am almost done with my basement. 🙂 Update following soon.
Feature image School of life
Contributed to ForgivingFridays